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September 17, 1997

Rationalizing Medical Work: Decision-Support Techniques and Medical Practices

Author Affiliations

San Diego, Calif

JAMA. 1997;278(11):950. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550110088046

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


While I was reading this book, IBM's "Big Blue" conquered Gary Kasparov at chess. Kasparov, the reigning world champion, is regarded by many as the greatest chess player of all time. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that Marc Berg was not impressed with this feat of "machine over man."

In Rationalizing Medical Work, Berg, an MD, PhD, researcher at the University of Maastrecht in the Netherlands, outlines why our coexistence with the technologies we create is never so simple as who wins and who loses and why "computerizing" the work of medicine has not been, is not now, and will not soon become an easy task. He weaves the fabric of this argument through a fascinating combination of historical, sociological, and technical threads in an explicit attempt to understand just what medical work is. In the end, rather than presenting a nihilistic view of the impact of "rationalizing"